- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2001

War is too important to be left to the generals. Its a truism that this will be a paramount principle in the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld management of national defense. It should be likewise in diplomacy, a matter much too important to be left to the Foreign Service.
Far from being insults to the career services, both of these doctrines, properly conceived and carried out, are good for the professionalism and effectiveness of our career Foreign Service and military personnel.
While civilian command of the Defense Department is unquestioned, "civilian" that is non-careerist authority in State Department jobs usually is an issue of contention. This is so especially at the beginning of a new administration.
Senators in the opposition party, egged on by the Foreign Service labor union, often assail as "unprofessional" the presidents political appointees for ambassadorships and other senior jobs. Presidents bring justifiable criticism on themselves when they offer embassies to conspicuous campaign contributors who lack serious diplomatic capabilities.
President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have an opportunity to transcend the weary, us-vs.-them standoff between the career and political people. Encouragingly, their first appointments for policy management jobs at State are political loyalists superbly experienced to command respect from the career officers.
Paula Dobriansky, a Reagan Republican who was a Soviet specialist on the Gippers National Security Council staff and now heads the Washington program of the Council on Foreign Relations, and John Bolton, another Reagan alumnus, have been named to critical undersecretary posts. Otto Reich, who was Ronald Reagans ambassador to Venezuela, will be assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, Mr. Bushs top priority region.
These and other Bush appointees have their work cut out for them. Not only the White House, but also the State Department career staff, is looking for strong leadership to reverse the drift of the Albright years. Mr. Powells top aides also have many policy changes to make in fulfillment of the presidents campaign promises. They cannot be fully effective unless they are allowed to have politically responsive staffs. This will require a new way of thinking about the State Department, but by no means does it have to be at the expense of an effective career Foreign Service.
The current zero-sum-game assumes limited slots for career people vs. political appointees. We should overcome this by expanding and enhancing the Foreign Service as a truly foreign service not as a de facto "State Department bureaucracy service."
Secretary Powell pointed in the right direction during his confirmation hearing. "While the world has been growing more complex and demanding," he said, "we have cut the number of people in the State Department, we have underfunded our facilities accounts, we have neglected our infrastructure. We need to do better."
As a great power and a people determined to promote peace and justice in the world, the U.S. has too few foreign diplomatic posts and personnel. We should open more diplomatic posts and increase the number of Foreign Service officers representing us abroad. Like the military, Foreign Service officers deserve better pay, better living conditions and better resources. Mr. Powell has promised to ask Congress for much-needed budget increases for our people and posts abroad.
Meanwhile, the new administration should be completely unabashed about seeking more positions for qualified political appointees to implement the presidents policies at State. There are far too few such political positions now, and as a consequence, "The Building," as recovering Foggy Bottom types sometimes call the place, tends to run on bureaucratic inertia. With rare exceptions, assistant secretaries and deputy assistant secretaries at State should be the presidents political appointees. Many more slots for political appointees at the "working level" for example, GS-15s should be created.
Finally, there is the matter of ambassadorships. These cant be increased since there are only so many foreign capitals. Here too, President Bush should resist pressure to accept quotas limiting the number of qualified political appointees. He should show his esteem for the institution of the Foreign Service by naming its best officers as ambassadors, but he must not shortchange the talent pool of committed, competent "civilian" executives, elected officials and, yes, even Republican campaign contributors.
Many of our most outstanding ambassadors of the past generation have been former members of Congress or national political party chairmen, both Democrats and Republicans. These have included former Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and former House Speaker Thomas Foley in Tokyo; Donald Rumsfeld as ambassador to NATO; Robert Strauss in Moscow; and lets not forget George H.W. Bush in Beijing.

Joseph P. Duggan is senior vice president of the DCS Group public affairs firm in Washington. He was a Reagan appointee in the State Department and a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.

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